Saleyard plan bagged
By PETER CATON
COUNCIL proposals to spend one million dollars on new cattle saleyards in Murwillumbah have raised the hackles of some farmers who say it would be a waste of ratepayers' money.
The proposal is one of a number of spending initiatives in Tweed Shire Council's seven-year plan which includes compounding general rates rises that have already alarmed residents' groups and businesses.
Now farmers say they would be flat out meeting the proposed rate increases running into thousands of dollars and will be objecting.
The council says the objection is welcome and it wants public submissions on whether the saleyards project should go ahead.
Chairman of the Combined Tweed Rural Industries Association, grazier Col Brooks said he was sure many local farmers considered spending a million dollars on the saleyards, near the Murwillumbah showgrounds, "a waste of money".
"A lot of farmers do not sell through those yards.
"They either consign directly to an abattoir or sell through Casino and Lismore," Mr Brooks said?
"I sell at Murwillumbah, but an awful lot don't anymore. I just wonder at the wisdom of spending that amount of money when the number of cattle being sold is going to be decreasing."
Mr Brooks said a meeting of farmers' representatives last week was "extremely alarmed" at the proposed rate rises to pay for works outlined in the council's seven-year plan.
"A 9.6 per cent annual increase is going to result in a much-higher increase in rates for farmers than for urban people," he said.
"The canefarmers' representative who now pays $12,000 in general rates will pay a minimum $25,000 by the end of seven years.
"He's going to have to harvest a minimum of something like 100 acres of cane just to pay his rate.
"It would be magic if we knew in seven years time our income would just about double."
The council's business undertakings manager Richard Adams said Tweed residents had to decide whether they wanted the saleyards to continue operating.
"If you want to stay in business you have to make allowances for the saleyards to be upgraded," he said.